The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed petitions filed by former Telecom Minister A Raja and others, saying that the Central Bureau of Investigation’s appeal against their acquittal in the 2G spectrum case has become infructuous as the anti-corruption law was amended, PTI reported.
The High Court said the amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act does not apply to those offences which have already taken place.
“Amended Act does not apply to offences that have already taken place,” Justice Brijesh Sethi said. “There was no intention to obliterate the earlier law. There is no impediment in hearing the appeals.”
On December 21, 2017, a special court had acquitted Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders Raja and Kanimozhi among others in the case. The CBI had alleged the exchequer lost Rs 30,984 crore because of the way licences for the 2G spectrum were allocated when Raja was the Union telecom minister.
During the hearing, Raja’s counsel told the High Court that the corruption charges against him and others in the case were now removed from the new Prevention of Corruption Act of 2018, and therefore, the prosecution cannot continue.
The CBI, however, argued that the petitions were not sustainable as the specific matter was raised earlier in the replies filed in response to the agency’s appeal.
In 2018, the Parliament had repealed Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Section referred to the criminal misconduct by a public servant if he obtained for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage by corrupt or illegal means; or by abusing his position as a public servant, or while holding office as a public servant, obtained for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had in March 2018 challenged the acquittal of all the individuals and companies in the 2G case. While the Enforcement Directorate had alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by STPL promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV, the CBI alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of licences for the 2G spectrum.
Special Judge OP Saini, who has now retired, however, had held that the prosecution “miserably failed” to prove the charges.
Meanwhile, the High Court also dismissed another petition filed by Raja and others challenging the decision-making process behind the central government granting approval to the CBI to file appeal against the acquittal of 2G scam accused. The High Court said that the appeal was duly filed by the CBI.
Justice Sethi, who will demit the office on November 30, also released the appeals from his court. He said that they will be listed before another bench on December 1, subject to the order of the chief justice. The court also dismissed the plea by a few of those acquitted, seeking to direct the government to place on record the documents containing the process to be followed before taking a decision to file an appeal. It held that the government was not under any obligation to do the same.
Apart from Raja and Kanimozhi, others who were acquitted in the case include former DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Managing Director of DB Realty Vinod Goenka, film producer Karim Morani and Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar in the Enforcement Directorate case.
In the CBI case, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s erstwhile private secretary RK Chandolia, Unitech Managing Director Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group were acquitted.
Raja, Kanimozhi and 15 others were tried under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, using fake documents as genuine, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribes.